Editorial, Carol Madden, Owner, Publisher, EstateSalesNews.com
Recently a reporter, Paul Sullivan of the New York Times wrote an article in wealth matters “It Pays To Be Wary When Hiring An Estate Sale Agent”.
This article was circulated on several internet sources about a family in Chicago, IL looking to sell the contents of the parents home in Beverly Hills, Michigan.
The article begins with the names of the individuals (the Davis Family) and their first hand experience with the dark side of estate sales, and includes this quoted “the fixture of weekend life in affluent suburban towns around the country”.
Your editor, as a former liquidator for 20 plus years in the estate sale industry can say without contradiction that estate sales take place in towns (affluent or not) in villages, and even the countryside all over America.
The article explains the problems encountered by the Davis family, however, it does not explain why only two sources quoted were chosen.
Selling before an estate sale can cost sellers a commission.
Sellers, understand that when you sign an estate sale contract you have signed and agreed to the terms in the contract. It is just like any other legal document.
Have signed a contract with an estate sale company? If your home is for sale and your buyers want to buy any of the contents this should be done through the estate sale company. 99% of estate sale contracts include a clause that specifies that any items not excluded from the sale prior to signing the contract will be subject to the commission amount charged at the sale.
Estate sale companies do this as a business. They make their living and pay their bills through this.
Sellers, you leave yourself open to going to court if you start pre-selling or withdrawing items after signing the contract. Estate liquidators determine whether to accept a sale based on what will be sold by them.
Realtors should not encourage sellers to buy without the estate sale company either. The Realtors also cannot and should not receive a commission for this. They can only be paid by their Brokers.
Sellers you should also not ask for a reduced commission. If you want to sell to your buyers prior to the sale with a signed contract expect to pay a commission.
Sellers Protect yourself from legal action and respect the estate sale company.
How to choose or hire an estate sale company. Tips from a former estate liquidator. Experience counts.
Choosing an estate sale company (liquidator) is a decision made with careful consideration and knowledge. Here is a guide from Carol Madden of EstateSalesNews.com to common questions about choosing an estate sale company. These helpful tips are based upon her 25 years’ experience as an estate liquidator. Print them out for your easy reference!
Where do I find estate sale companies?
There are several ways to find estate sale companies. Online, there are four leading websites that list estate sale companies and their sales. They are EstateSale.com EstateSales.org, EstateSales.net and Estatesale.company. You can also ask your attorney, local realtor and/or friends about their experiences with companies with which they might have had estate sale dealings in the past.
What do I look for in an estate sale company?
Choosing an estate sale company is a process – here is a list of tips to follow.
- CHOOSE at least several estate sale companies (if possible) to contact that work in your area.
- CHECK the internet for any reviews on the companies you will be calling.
- CALL the estate companies: Ask them about their business experience, staff, and services they provide. Be sure to ask if they are insured and, in some states, licensed. You may also want to ask them about visiting their next sale and tell them you would like to speak with past clients. Print out and use our handy interview page at the end of this linked document (at right) to record your findings for each company.
- SCHEDULE appointments for face-to-face interviews only with companies you felt provided you with satisfactory answers during the phone interviews. Be sure to schedule the in-person interviews several hours apart or even on different days so they don’t overlap.
- SHOW the estate liquidator through the property. Point out any items that will not be included in the sale, and if you have any items where price is a concern, discuss it with them at that time.
- ASK them about their crowd control policy, pricing (how they research prices), credit card acceptance and any associated credit card fees, security, staffing, staging the property (when they would want to start and how long it would take), and what their current schedule of sales is. Additionally, ask how many days they would conduct your estate sale, whether they allow anyone (staff or otherwise) to buy before the sale starts (presale), whether they will be required to collect sales tax, obtain any necessary permits, and place advertising (where and when).
- INQUIRE as to commission or fee. What they charge is not as important as hiring a reputable, experienced estate sale company that will work to achieve the best results possible in current market conditions in your area and make the process as stress-free as possible.
- FIND OUT from the estate sale company how and when you will be paid and whether or not they provide clean out services (what do they charge) or do they have a company that will (again ask about the fee).
TAKE NOTES AND DON’T MAKE A DECISION UNTIL YOU HAVE MET AND TALKED TO ALL THE LIQUIDATORS WITH WHOM YOU HAVE APPOINTMENTS. Take time to review their answers to your questions and any notes you made about the estate liquidator (attitude, appearance, demeanor, apparent knowledge and any recommendations).
More helpful reading at EstateSalesNews.com:
Estate sale companies cannot be biased.
It is against federal law for an estate liquidator to not permit people based on their race, ethnicity, religion or sexual preference from attending your estate sale.
Estate liquidators that encounter such bias will likely excuse themselves from the interview and exit the property.
Federal law does not permit this kind of discrimination in any business including real estate and estate sales.
Recently this happened to an estate sale company and they immediately left the home.
The only persons not allowed at estate sales are known thieves, persistent trouble makers, people that tend to be physically threatening and those that have passed bad checks or commit credit card fraud.
Although there isn’t any federal regulation on estate sales, there is federal law about discrimination and that affects all businesses.
Having a broad attendance at your estate sale increases the likely hood of achieving success. It doesn’t matter who spends, the important thing is that they spend.
EstateSalesNews.com has not addressed this issue before and we want this to be the only time.
Wishing you a happy Monday.
Time to ask the question where does estate sale experience come from?
More organizations, associations and societies are entering the estate sale field.
The question arises, where do they get their expertise in the estate sale field from? Some of the owners of estate sale companies are members of appraisal organizations such as ISA, CAGA or ASA. They have completed courses of study by these associations. Have met their requirements including experience, years in the business and a code of ethics and professional conduct they adhere to.
Many estate liquidators started out as helpers or apprenticed at estate sales. A great way to acquire knowledge about personal property, antiques, and art.
Others have taken courses such as the Fine Art course offered by NYU.
Each of these estate sale associations, societies and organizations has written their own code of ethics. There isn’t a national code of ethics or a state code of ethics.
EstateSalesNews.com is providing the sales taxes charged by the 50 states. Not all states charge sales tax on estate sales. It depends on the county, city or town. Check with your state to learn if your state requires sales tax be charged at estate sales. Do not expect cash payment to evade paying sales tax. Retail stores charge it and states are alert to estate sale companies failing to charge it.
Currently there are only 4 states that do not require sales tax at estate sales.
Be kind to the estate sale company. They are doing what is required and this is extra paperwork for them that they are not compensated for.
Alabama 4% – 12%, Alaska 0%, Arizona 2% -6.6%, Arkansas 6.5%
California 7.5% -10.0%, Colorado 2.9% – 8.0%, Connecticut 6.35%
Delaware 0%, District of Columbia 5% – 7.5%
Florida 6% – 7%
Georgia 4% – 6%
Hawaii Gross receipts and use tax 4% +
Idaho 6.0%, Illinois 6.25% -9.0%, Indiana 7.0%, Iowa 6.0% -7.0%
Kansas 6.15% – 11.15%, Kentucky 6.0%
Louisiana 4.0% – 9.0%
Maine 5.5%, Maryland 6.%, Massachusetts 6.25%, Michigan 6.0%, Minnesota 6.0%, Missouri 4.225% – 9.6%, Montana 0%
Nebraska 5.5% – 7.0%, Nevada 6.85% – 7.25%, New Hampshire 0%, New Jersey 7.0% enterprise zone 3.5%, New Mexico 5.0% – 8.8625%, New York 7.0% – 8.75%, North Carolina 4.75% – 7.0%, North Dakota 2.0% – 7.0%
Ohio 5.75% – 8.0%, Oklahoma 4.5% – cities 7.5% – 8.5%, Oregon 0%
Pennsylvania 6.0% Philadelphia 8.0%
South Carolina 6.0% – 10.5%, South Dakota 4.0%
Tennessee 7.0% – 9.25%, Texas 6.25% – 8.25%
Vermont 6.0%, Virginia 5.3% – 6.5%
Washington 6.5%, West Virginia 6.0%, Wisconsin 5.0% – 5.5%, Wyoming 4.0% – 7.0%
This is a special estate sale weekend. Estate sales will be taking place all over the country. However, tonight is a CNN telethon Stand Up To Cancer and on Sunday we remember and mark the 15th anniversary of American’s worst day – 9/11.
So many estate sale companies have had staff affected by cancer. Even your editor 20 years ago had cancer. Please take some time tonight and donate if you can to the CNN Stand Up To Cancer Telethon.
On Sunday 9/11 we will remember the 15th anniversary of the attack on New York and Washington when almost 3,000 Americans were killed by terrorists. Our world was forever changed. Including how we do business and the way we take notice of people and our environment.
EstateSalesNews.com will pause at 8:47am on Sunday when the north tower was struck. We were 10 miles away that day and it has forever changed us.
We wish all estate sale companies success this weekend. Please remember our service members who keep us safe and make possible our free economy. We also pause to stand and remember the families and friends of those lost that day. So much to remember!